In the early morning hours of a late February day we awoke to the silence of the Glamis sunrise. The wind was dead, the sandy dunes were rough, and the tribal circle of rental campers began to come alive. It was time to celebrate Yamaha’s latest arsenal of SXS and ATV, but our goal was to get a ride in the most powerful YXZ to date. The word turbo is synonymous with serious power output and in Yamaha’s 2019 model year, the 2019 Yamaha YXZ1000R SS SE gave us a tour of the Imperial Sand Dunes proper for the memory bank.
Although the Turbo YXZ is still only offered in GYTR kit form there are many great changes to the platform to give anyone with a few extra dollars and a hunger for bold power, something to chew on. The very first and potentially most important item of discussion was the fact that Yamaha had reduced the install time as well as cost of the GYTR Turbo kit. The way they had achieved this is that every YXZ1000R engine for 2019 has already had the stronger “turbo approved” connecting rods installed in the engine from the factory. This means that you do not have to open your engine nor does the dealer, which greatly reduces the stress and cost of getting that little pony maker installed. Not to mention it eliminates the potential risk for mistakes that could be catastrophic should the process be done in your home garage.
Another time saver that some may or may not immediately notice would be that the wiring harness on the YXZ is prewired for some of their accessories. This not only keeps install time of electrical accessories to a minimum, but I would say it also helps to keep your wiring harness from getting all cut up when that backyard mechanic decides to “show you how it’s done.” I’d say it also helps when trouble shooting any wiring issue back at the dealer level.
Yamaha had brought several YXZ’s to choose from including a GYTR turbo laden YXZ1000R SS SE with Bighorn tires. For model year 2019 you will find Special Edition models that include virtually all of the same features excluding the two types of shocks. The cage has better upper visibility out the front and entry egress. The FOX shocks vary between color so the team Yamaha blue YXZ has the FOX Podium RC2 2.5 with dual springs and the Ultra White YXZ is outfitted with the FOX Podium X2 2.5 shocks with dual springs and adjustable crossovers. The biggest difference between the two turbo YXZ’s was that one had big paddles and the other, factory installed Big Horn tires. There was a Non-Turbo YXZ with a 28-inch paddle but to keep the results from getting confusing, lets stick with the discussions to SXS’s with Turbos.
In hindsight, we could have experienced the Team Yamaha Blue YXZ first, but it did give us a great result by driving the completely outfitted Ultra White version of the YXZ from the start. The Ultra White 2019 Yamaha YXZ 1000R SS SE sat still, almost glaring at the potential drivers. The extra GYTR bling had been strategically installed to give everyone a few grins when staring in its direction. Some of the key or most noticeable accessories on this Ultra White special edition model had to be the 29-inch Sand Slinger paddle tires mounted on KMC bead lock wheels. Combining those traction producing sand tires with the GYTR Turbo kit made this machine the stand out. Yamaha had also installed their Halo light bar on the roof of the SXS as well as some front bumper area lights. To say that this machine looked the part would be an understatement as it really did look aggressive and somewhat menacing when slipping off into the sand straight towards you.
Slipping down into the cab of the Ultra White YXZ it was apparent that the interior had also gotten some special treatment. The list of accessories kept growing as the SSV sound system gave us some time to share our favorite tunes through Bluetooth connectivity. You might remember also that Yamaha had teamed up with Magellan to produce the Adventure Pro system that maps and shares your tracks along with keeping you informed on how your machine is doing in the process. This little mapping device is crucial for those of us that do not get to venture out into the vast desert areas because getting lost here is pretty easy.
Strapping into the seat was also a little different as Yamaha had switched out the regular three-point harness for their serious security in the accessory four-point harness kit that comes with the new bracket kit. This bracket kit allows the accessory harness to be mounted low on the new protective structure crossbar behind the seat and it keeps the belts closer together for a more secure fit. By now you also know that the radiator has been moved from the front of the YXZ to the rear center of the passenger compartment directly behind the seating area. This new radiator and location provide the YXZ with 300 percent more cooling for those long days in the heat of your favorite riding area. It is the largest radiator to date for Yamaha. It is also worth mentioning that the heat flowing off the radiator is no longer transferred through the cab across the driver and passenger which makes the riding experience that much better as well.
As for our ride, well it gets pretty interesting. Leaving out of the camp on Gecko road the sand was rough due to the lack of wind over the previous days. The chop kept our FOX X2 suspension working but it didn’t transfer that work into the cab to bad. The X2 series shocks are completely amazing when it comes to soaking up the small stuff not to mention how they really absorb those big g-outs that surprise an eager driver from time to time. It’s a shame that these shocks are not offered on all YXZ models instead of just the Special Edition, but I guess the price would be vastly different as well. The most noticeable item that really goes unnoticed is how seamlessly the turbo blends in the extra power to the driver’s intent. The turbo seems to be very available but not overly rude off the bottom of the pedal. The power is there and getting the YXZ1000R rolling you can feel the progress in forced air as the RPM’s climb. It’s when the mid-range punch rolls in that you know you have a grip on something serious. The power flows well and although it is stout, 60% more power, we did find that the 29-inch Sand Slinger paddle tires soaked a lot of that up when transferring the torque to the sand. In a straight line however, when laying a heavy foot on the gas pedal the power as well as torque is impressively evident and consistently grows as the pedal is dropped to the floor and the engine begins to really scream. Revving an engine to a 10,500-rpm limiter is incredibly exhilarating to say the least.
So, our trip through the dunes took us to some of the more popular places and one was an incredible hill climb called Oldsmobile Hill. If you have not visited this area of California, the Imperial Sand Dunes (aka Glamis) has several named locations that should be on the schedule as must see. Oldsmobile is a common spot for drag races and this trip was no different. This group of SXS enthusiasts decided to pit the Yamaha YXZ’s against their siblings to test the overall power results from stock with 28-inch paddles to Turbo with Bighorn tires and then with the YXZ SE model with turbo and 29-inch paddle tires. The results were as expected with the consistent driving in the Ultra White SS SE model YXZ Eking out the others by a fair margin. Launching the YXZ’s up the incredible mountain of sand was enjoyable, but it was time to see just how the package handled the dunes overall.
Riding in Glamis requires some skill and much more importantly, if you’re a flat lander, common sense to follow someone who has been here before. Rolling over or climbing up a large sand dune and cresting the top of the next is exhilarating and having the power to do so makes life in the blinding white sandbox much more fun. The Sand slinger paddles seemed to transfer the brutal power to the ground well and made climbing the dunes easier which is why most choose a paddle tire. These tires also add more ground clearance to the YXZ.
On the flip side, we did get some seat time in the 2019 Team Yamaha Blue YXZ1000R SS SE with the factory installed original Maxxis Big Horn tire and quite frankly, it seemed to be a bit more fun. The Big Horn is a great universal tire (some say one of the best in the industry) and it seems to allow a little better maneuverability overall. Sliding the rear of the YXZ out was a very easy thing to do with the GYTR turbo kit installed. Although these tires are presumably spinning with a bit less traction when standing in the throttle it surely gets the heart racing.
Overall, this latest version of the YXZ1000R SS SE is a great forward leap for Yamaha. These machines are becoming better and better as the years progress and Yamaha has their mind set to Rev your Heart!